The Alaskan Malamute is descended from the dogs of the Mahlemuits tribe of Alaska, which can be traced back about 3,000 years!
The Malamute is a working breed. They have served as companions and helpers and have also proven to be adept at search and rescue. Originally bred as a sled dog, it is now a popular family dog.
Malamutes are loyal and amicable, making them good candidates for family pets. They tend to become attached to their masters, yet they are quite able to get along with everyone in the family. Fun-loving and active as puppies, this breed grows up to be calm and even-tempered.
The Alaskan Malamute does requires a great deal of attention. If it doesn’t get it, the dog could become destructive. But as long as the Malamute has human companionship and proper handling and socialization, it is a well-mannered and pleasant pet. When selecting a Malamute, look for signs of hip dysplasia. Dwarfism is sometimes found in this breed, so ask for dwarfism test results from the dog’s parents.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Canidae
- Genus: Canis
- Species: lupus familiaris
Malamutes are descended from the dogs of the Mahlemuits tribe of Alaska, which can be traced back up to 3,000 years. These dogs served as companions and helpers, pulling travel and supply sleds and accompanying their owners on hunting trips. The breed was traditionally kept as pure as possible until the Klondike Gold Rush, when high demand led some owners to cross them with other breeds.
The Alaskan Malamute has also proven to be adept at search and rescue. It is sometimes used in sled racing as well, although it is usually slower than smaller breeds. In sport, the Malamute is better suited to carting or weight pulling.
Malamutes closely resemble wolves, but their friendly expressions give them away. They are large, muscular dogs with wide heads. Their ears are medium sized, pointed and erect, and their eyes small and brown. Their feet are furry, and their tails plumed and carried over the back. The coat is of medium length and may be white, black and white, wolf gray, wolf sable, or red. The legs and muzzle are usually white.
Male Malamutes are usually 24 to 26 inches tall and weigh 80 to 95 pounds. Females are usually 22 to 24 inches tall and weigh 70 to 85 pounds. It is not unusual, however, for these dogs to be larger or smaller than the standard size.
Care and Feeding
The Alaskan Malamute’s native food sources consisted of northern fish, whale, and seal meat. The best substitutes available in commercial food include poultry, fish, lamb and rice. This breed is prone to bloat, so feeding two or three smaller meals a day rather than one large meal is advisable.
The Malamute needs to be brushed at least twice a week to remove dead hair from their thick coats. Dry shampoos should be given occasionally, but this breed tends to remain clean and odor free.
Malamutes need annual checkups in order to stay healthy. Vaccinations should be administered on the following
- 6-8 weeks: Distemper, Leptospirosis, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvo, and Corona virus (DHLPPC)
- 10-12 weeks: Second DHLPPC
- 14-16 weeks: Third DHLPPC and rabies
- Annually: DHLPPC and rabies booster
An Alaskan Malamute will shed very heavily, especially in the spring. Regular vacuuming of the carpet and furniture is necessary if kept indoors.
Housing Your Dog
Malamutes are not good candidates for living indoors in small spaces. They are somewhat active indoors, and they need the opportunity to roam outside regularly. It is best if these dogs have a large yard surrounded by a high, sturdy fence with a buried base. In very hot weather, they need to be indoors with air conditioning if possible. If they must stay outside, plenty of shade and cool water (to drink and play in) are important.
Malamutes naturally get along well with their families, and they are rarely aggressive toward strangers. They might be aggressive toward other dogs, however, especially other Malamutes of the same sex. They may also view smaller animals as prey. But with proper socialization, they can coexist peacefully with virtually any animal.
Handling and Training
Common Health Problems
Malamutes are usually quite healthy dogs. Potential health concerns include eye problems, hip dysplasia, and cancer in the animal’s later years. Bloat is fairly common in this breed, so it is important to know the symptoms and be prepared to take your Malamute to the vet quickly if you see them. Feeding two to three small meals per day can help prevent bloat.
- Liz Palika, The Howell Book of Dogs: The Definitive Reference to 300 Breeds and Varieties , Howell Book House, 2007
- American Kennel Club, The Complete Dog Book: 20th Edition (Complete Dog Book) , Ballantine Books, 2006
- Kristin Mehus-Roe, The Original Dog Bible: The Definitive Source to All Things Dog, BowTie Press, 2005
- Alaskan Malamute, Copyright Dog Breed Info Center
- Alaskan Malamute Puppies for Sale, Copyright PuppyFind.com, LLC
- Alaskan Malamute, Wikipedia
Featured Image Credit: Tatyana Kuznetsova, Shutterstock